Firefighter awarded $325,599 in damages over workplace injury

Date: Jun 25, 2019

When working in dangerous situations every day, those employed in the emergency services are at a higher risk of injury. While they are aware of the risks beforehand, sometimes incidents occur as a result of negligent behaviour. This can warrant an injured emergency service employee to submit a claim under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW).

Background of the injury

The plaintiff was a member of the fire brigade. On January 22, 2007,he attended a shopping centre in answer to a fire alarm. As part of his duties, the plaintiff and another fire officer had to ascend a ladder to check the air conditioning unit was not at risk. Once the area had been given the all clear, the plaintiff descended the ladder. When doing so, he felt something hit the back of his neck – an unrestrained steel locking bar that was used to secure the roof door.

The man experienced pain in his neck and shoulder as a result of the incident. As such, he submitted a claim under the Workers Compensation Act alleging that the owner of the shopping centre was negligent and breached their duty of care.

The defendant denied the allegations and felt the plaintiff sustained injuries as a result of his own negligence.

Following the accident

In the years that followed the accident, the plaintiff regularly complained of pain in his neck. However, on various occasions, medical professionals deemed the man fit to return to his work duties.

Despite surgery and positive doctor reports, in July 2015, Fire & Rescue NSW made the decision to medically retire the plaintiff. It felt the man could no longer perform his duties to the accepted standard.

The plaintiff was devastated by the decision and became depressed.

What did the court decide?

The court felt that doctors should not have considered the plaintiff fit for work as he regularly complained of ongoing injury. It also learned that another person had made several complaints about the locking bar that caused the plaintiff's injuries. However, the shopping centre management had done nothing to rectify the issue. As such, the court decided that the defendant had breached its duty of care towards the firefighter and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff had a serious effect on his amenities of life.

The court ruled in favour of the plaintiff, awarding him $325,599 in damages.

If you've sustained injury in the workplace as a result of another's negligent behaviour, you too could be eligible for compensation. For more information, get in touch with the workers compensation lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners today.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.